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‘Loaded’: The Velvet Underground in 5.1 surround, win a free box set from Rhino
12:05 pm


Velvet Underground

Here’s the TL;DR version: If you are an aficionado of 5.1 surround music, run, do not walk, to buy the new Velvet Underground Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition box set NOW. Don’t hesitate. It’s fucking amazing.

For readers who want a more considered review, read on. Full disclosure, this is a sponsored post, but I can promise you that what you’re reading is 100% the way I really feel.

I had been very, very anxious to hear the newly reloaded Velvet Underground Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition box set. I’m a big fan of surround music and I am a big fan of the Velvet Underground, so the idea that I would get to hear Loaded, one of my favorite albums of all time in 5.1 surround seemed too good to be true. I recently moved and made a point not to set up my audio system until I had said VU box set in hand. I wanted it to be the first thing I listened to in the new place. For days I watched the mail like a hungry hawk. It arrived late yesterday morning. Around 5pm, I started setting up my audio system, calibrated everything for the new room it was in, etc., and then just as I was about to toke up, sit down and listen, the amp went into protection mode, shut down and an error message told me to “check speaker wires.” Shit!

It took me five incredibly annoying hours of troubleshooting until I found the culprit, a tiny splinter of barely visible copper wiring that was touching between two poles on one of the speakers. I had to remove it with tweezers it was so small. In any case, I mention this because while I was removing the speakers and adding them back in one at time to figure out the source of my problem, starting with the center speaker, I was playing the 5.1 surround mix of Loaded and it was very interesting to hear the component parts of an album that I thought I was molecularly familiar with in that new way.

And that’s the point of 5.1 surround audio, to hear something “classic” with fresh ears, like you’re hearing it for the first time. Well, I just listened to it twice this morning, all the way through, and here are my initial thoughts. As it would be pointless for me to “expound” on Loaded and try to come up with something new and profound to say about it, I won’t insult my reader’s intelligence, because honestly who cares what I think about this classic? (I don’t care what you think either.) I just wanted to give my opinion of “the product” here.

So on the count of “hearing something old again with fresh ears,” they certainly did right by Loaded. The mixes, done by Kevin Reeves at Republic/4th Floor Studios in New York, are very well realized and he’s made some choices—very good ones, creatively, I hasten to add—that I think many a producer would not have made. There’s somewhat of an orthodoxy when it comes to mixing for 5.1 that some mixers fall into—favoring the fronts is how I’d put it—that Reeves wisely avoids. Lou Reed and Doug Yule’s lead vocal tracks are pushed up high in the mix, making Yule’s voice sound more innocent, for instance, while Reed’s vocals are so well presented here that you can practically hear the spittle spraying the microphone. Nuance galore is revealed. The lead vocals often appear “bare” in the center speakers, but other than that, Reeves really endeavored to truly “surround” the listener. The Association meets street corner doo wop backing vocals are given a full sonic spread. The wall of guitars in “Rock and Roll” is MIND-BLOWING coming at you from all sides. “Sweet Jane” sounds so damned crisp and you’re right smack in the middle of it. I thought it was a thrilling ride from start to finish. By the time it ended with “Oh Sweet Nuthin’” I felt like I was listening to the saddest song of all time. (I’ve always loved that song, but hearing it in 5.1 was like a religious experience.)

Best archival release of the year so far, hands down (and I haven’t even listened to anything other than the 5.1 mix so far). If you’re a Velvets nut and into 5.1 surround, this is what you want for Christmas... if you can wait that long.

Or you can try to win one from Rhino:


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Ascent by DaVinci: The advanced portable vaporizer
03:16 pm


DaVinci Ascent

Portable vaporizers have come a long way since they first started appearing in the marketplace around fifteen years ago. In those days, technology was still a bit limited, so manufacturers worked with what they had to piece together what was possible at the time, resulting in some seriously underwhelming offerings.

Early portables were either too bulky, too expensive or quite frankly - impractical. It wasn’t until about five years ago that the portable vaporizer revolution really began. Advancements in digital temperature control, battery efficiency, heating technology and mobile design sparked a sudden influx of new, cutting-edge portables from manufacturers across the globe.

Today, we’re witnessing unprecedented, sweeping marijuana reform from coast to coast. Even the staunchest opponents of the movement are finding it hard to deny the medical and economical benefits of decriminalization and legalization. That being said, folks in states like Colorado and Washington, where recreational use of marijuana permitted, are flocking to their local dispensaries and lighting up.

However, in today’s health-conscious society, folks are more aware than ever of the negative effects of smoking. It’s no secret that smoke inhalation can lead to serious respiratory issues, including lung cancer. When a flame is used to burn or ignite dry material, dangerous carcinogens and by-products are released from your herb into your lungs through the process of combustion. With the dangers of smoking now being widely publicized, many people are finding it as good a time as any to replace their old pipes and bongs with a new vaporizer. The issue for the consumer then becomes trying to figure out which vape to purchase.

Unfortunately, the process of choosing a portable vaporizer can be a somewhat disillusioning process, as the market has recently become flooded with re-branded, sub-par, cheaply made units that simply don’t perform as advertised. This has lead to many disenfranchised customers, whose initial vaporization experience could have turned out very differently if they had done a bit more research before making a purchase. That’s not to say there’s not some great units out there - quite the contrary. In fact, there are a handful of units that stand head and shoulders above the competition, with the Ascent being one of them.

Built by DaVinci to be the ideal option for vaping on-the-go, the Ascent’s ergonomic design lends itself well its overall portability. Designed to fit easily into any pocket, purse or bag, the Ascent redefines what it means for a vape to be truly portable. The simplicity and discreet nature of this device are overshadowed only by its unparalleled functionality and truly unique aesthetics.

While it seems most manufacturers are focusing more on profits than performance, DaVinci crafted the Ascent with both form and function in mind and created a vaporizer that doesn’t just look great, but works great as well too. Standing atop the new generation of high-tech portable devices, the Ascent features cutting-edge technology coupled with an artistically inspired design to create a portable unit that is second to none. By focusing on the core principles of vaporization, and not “in-your-face” marketing campaigns, DaVinci has gained the support of true vape enthusiasts across the globe.

Let’s talk specifications. The Ascent was one of the first vaporizers to utilize a glass on glass vapor delivery system, eliminating by-products which can be caused from metals or plastics - the result of which is pure, full-flavored vapor free of any impurities. Featuring advanced electronics and heating technology, the Ascent’s long wave infrared heating core is capable of adjusting and maintaining an accurate and consistent internal temperature during the entire course of your vape session. A uniquely designed glass lined ceramic filling chamber evenly distributes heat, ensuring your herbs are heating uniformly and efficiently.

Capable of reaching heats upwards of 430°F, the Ascent gives you option to experience with a wide range of temperatures, allowing you find your vaporizer “sweet-spot.” Just set the vape to any desired temperature via the OLED digital display, and in less than a minute, you’re ready to vape. To take a draw, simply slide the glass stem out of its enclosure where it’s safely stored during transit. Then, just sit back and immerse yourself in the pure, unadulterated vapor of the gods. Since your herbs are being heated below the point of combustion through the process of convection heating, no smoke is produced during the vaporization process.

If features such as advanced temperature control, extended battery life, overall portability, vapor quality/production and value are all things you’re looking for in a portable vaporizer, then the Ascent by DaVinci is a solid option. Check out their website at

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I want my R.E.M. TV! Win a whole mess of R.E.M. stuff from Rhino
12:22 pm



In many ways, R.E.M. were always the quintessential MTV band. The group’s first single came out in July of 1981, while MTV debuted but a few weeks later, on August 1. MTV must’ve had a lot of rabid R.E.M. fans working there when they launched, because from the very beginning the band was seemingly always on the channel, a practically ubiquitous “indie” presence on programs like The Cutting Edge (which was produced by their label, I.R.S. Records), Alternative Nation, and 120 Minutes. Their career moves, tours and general gossip about them were constantly chronicled on MTV News. They were usually on the MTV awards shows getting them, presenting them and playing live. I think it’s safe to say that when MTV beckoned, R.E.M. showed up on time and did a great job and made everyone’s lives easier. That’s how a group stays on top for thirty years. To sustain that long of a ride you need to be professional, hardworking, easy to deal with, etc, etc.

As a result of their practically symbiotic relationship, MTV documented practically everything about R.E.M. right up to their decision to disband in 2011. R.E.M. BY MTV, the critically acclaimed feature-length documentary by Alexander Young, draws exclusively from archival events and traces the history of R.E.M. (and MTV itself) in a chronological manner, which makes it feel as exciting and immediate as it did when it first took place.

R.E.M. BY MTV is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 2 from Rhino, and includes some rarely-seen live performances. You can win a copy of the film—and a whole lot more—by entering to win in the widget below the trailer.


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‘What’s your favorite post-Peter Gabriel song by Genesis?’
10:45 pm



Genesis are one of those love-em-or-hate-em kinda bands. Kinda like Rush, except that with Genesis, you have rabid fans who are loyalists to the Peter Gabriel-era and simply HATE the Phil Collins-led band. And vice-versa. And then there are some hair splitters who can only go along with that group until Steve Hackett buggers off and then, you know, forget it.

Me, I always thought they sucked, with Peter Gabriel or without him. There were two weird kids in my junior high school who absolutely loved them, and would insult anyone “not smart enough” to “get” Genesis with withering and dismissive putdowns. These two also spoke to each other in a made-up language only they knew. You know how some people hate the Grateful Dead solely due to their distaste for tie-dye and hacky sacks? Maybe I was unfairly blaming Genesis for their geeky fanboys?

About five years ago I decided to go through the Genesis back catalog to see what I was missing. The one I really LOVE is their self-titled debut album that was recorded while they were still teenagers—apparently they themselves hate it—and I came to quite like the rest of the Peter Gabriel-era stuff. If you tell people who are normally Genesis-haters that Brian Eno is sprinkled liberally throughout The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, they’re usually more inclined to give it a chance. (I know because that ruse worked on me.)

As for the post-Gabriel group, I will admit to having a soft spot for Duke‘s “Turn It On Again.” It’s my jam! I’m playing it now as I type this. My wife must be groaning in the next room, but I can’t see her expression. I even have Duke in a 5.1 surround mix.

I threw the question out to the Dangerous Minds editors: “What’s your favorite Genesis track, but one that’s post-Peter Gabriel?”

Christopher Bickel: I think Abacab is a legit jam. Is there something wrong with me?

Richard Metzger: Why does everyone always use the term “jam” when describing the Phil Collins-led era of Genesis? I do it, too. What’s that all about?

Martin Schneider: I’m very fond of Abacab. I really like a bunch of Phil Collins-era Genesis stuff. I find the Gabriel-era of Genesis a little meander-y. If you listen to Seconds Out you get the best of both worlds, live Phil Collins hammering out a bunch of Gabriel’s best songs.

Ron Kretsch: In before someone posts the Patrick Bateman monologue.

Martin Schneider: The Sum of the Parts documentary on Genesis is very good—one of the things they mentioned that I didn’t really know is that the whole “I’m embarrassed to be a Genesis fan” stank has clung to them from the very first. “Genesis sucks man, and I love ‘em!” Or something.

Tara McGinley: Please take me off this conversation. Thank you.

Christopher Bickel: We’re totally being “those dudes at the party.” In some ways I’d rather listen to Wind and Wuthering than the Gabriel-era stuff because, even though Gabriel was better in every way, the music from that period is darker and less Renn Faire-y. Even some of the tracks from the time of edging into their MTV pop hit days were pretty good. “Mama” is a really creepy and weird song about being obsessed with a prostitute. It’s almost a pop version of Throbbing Gristle!

Ron went with “Man of Our Times” from Duke:

Duke sits very nicely in the sweet spot of post-Gabriel Genesis, avoiding both the overwrought airy-fairyness of Trick of the Tail and the abominable slickness (and that fucking gated-reverb drum sound) that was to come after Phil Collins’ solo success. “Man of Our Times’ hits all the right notes—it’s played as epically bombastic prog, but it’s possessed of pop restraint, competing with “Cul de Sac” as Duke‘s deep cut to beat.

Paul Gallagher chose “Trick of the Tail”:

Genesis were worried how their fans would respond to the band after Peter Gabriel had left. Their response was to knuckle down and start writing songs just to see what would happen.

Of course, there was another problem—a bigger problem: who would replace Gabriel as lead singer. The seemingly ever optimistic Phil Collins thought Genesis should just carry on as a four piece instrumental group—at least this would show they were not just “Pete’s band.” Of course, Genesis were never “Pete’s band”—they were always bigger and better than that. They tried out one singer, but he didn’t work, and so by good fortune as much by necessity Collins found himself singing the songs.

Genesis’ first single post-Pete was “Trick of the Tail.” It was also their first ever music video. Mike Rutherford later told Rolling Stone that he thought the promo was “really crappy.”

“I watch this video and I cringe. It’s just embarrassing. This was pre-MTV and we shot videos for this and ‘Robbery, Assault and Battery’ just to show them on TV. It’s really crappy.”

Written by Tony Banks “Trick of the Tail” is one of the very few pop songs inspired by a book by a Nobel prize-winning novelist—William Golding’s The Inheritors.

Chris Bickel ultimately went with “Abacab” from Abacab:

The title track from the last of the great, dark, “all new-wavey and weird,” post-Gabriel Genesis albums before they went full-blown radio-pop, “Abacab” is driven by an eighth-note pulse-beat groundwork over which an angular guitar barks at a variety of horror-synth sounds. Phil Collins’ vocals are especially aggro, proving the guy did actually have some range—no matter what the Gabrielphiles may have to say about it. Yeah, this is Genesis, but “Abacab” ain’t prog—this is straight-up post-punk. The LP version is superior, as it contains a haunting extended Eno-esque instrumental break not found on the single.

Martin sided with “Dodo/Lurker,” also from Abacab:

When assessing the glories (such as they are) of early-1980s Genesis, a word to keep firmly tucked in your brainpan is drama. How do these three blokes end up sounding so goddamn big? Mainly by twiddling a bunch of poncy knobs? It’s a mystery that cuts deep to the root of Genesis’ ever-widening appeal. Not for nothing was the working title for this ditty “German I & II,” which for a band from England surely evoked the biggest brand of drama you could demand.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
10 minutes with Tony Hawk
12:37 pm


Tony Hawk

Tony Hawk is synonymous with skateboarding, a living, breathing human trademark for his sport. An icon, he’s also a brand, running a business empire with tentacles in video games, amusement park rides, action sports exhibitions and his new YouTube channel, RIDE, which features Hawk himself in “Tony’s Strange Life.” He’s also known for his philanthropic activities, helping to build skateparks in low-income areas with his Tony Hawk Foundation, which has given away more than $3.4 million to help construct over 400 parks around the US.

We sat with Tony Hawk and asked a few questions about where he’s been and where he’s going next.

I’ve read that you were a really hyperactive child and that discovering skating helped you burn off that excessive energy. Is this why it’s so important for your charity to build skateparks in needy communities? So that other kids might find that same kind of focus you found through skating?

Tony Hawk: Yes, but it’s also important to me because I grew up near one of the last remaining skatepark of the ‘80s and I only realized later how lucky I was. It was a huge part of my life and gave me the opportunity to practice my passion, while spending time and sharing ideas with other skaters. I want to help provide the same type of opportunities and facilities for youth in difficult areas.

How do you tame that same hyperactivity today as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in sports? What keeps you centered and on target at this stage of your life?

My kids. Keeping up with them while trying to manage a career in skateboarding is a constant challenge. But I enjoy the challenges that being an “elder” skater and entrepreneur provide. It’s a whole new era of skateboarding and I am living the dream.

Sponsorships are obviously a large part of the business of Tony Hawk and you’ve always had A-list companies behind you. Tell me about some of those relationships. For example, you’ve worked with Nixon for a long time. How did that come about?

I have always admired Nixon‘s products and marketing, even before I was sponsored by them. I might be the only skater that begged my way onto the team, and I am proud to fly the Nixon flag in all my endeavors; they truly understand our culture. 

What’s the project that’s currently got you the most excited?

My next video game, coming out in late 2015 for newer consoles. It’s already looking on point.

Sponsored by Nixon

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Dollar Shave Club Wants To Shave You Time & Money
09:40 am


Dollar Shave Club

Brought to you by Dollar Shave Club

Think of all the other things you could be doing instead of wasting time at the store buying overpriced razors. You could learn a new language. You could bake a cake. Or you could finally finish that novel you’ve been working on.

Don’t worry, Dollar Shave Club has you covered. They deliver amazing razors for just a few dollars. They’ve just released four hilarious new commercials, which will soon be all over your television. The commercials showcase the frustrating and primitive experience that is buying overpriced razors at the store.

If you’re not one of the million members of Dollar Shave Club that benefit from never having to step inside a store to buy razors, these spots should definitely hit home. 

Upgrade to the smarter way to shave. Get amazing razors delivered to your door for just a few bucks. Try the Club.

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Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey: The Accidental Undertaker
07:15 pm


Jack Daniel's

Tierney manages the New Orleans bar that her grandfather started forty years ago and ran until his death in 2001, but he’s always watching over her, literally from above the bar, where an urn of his ashes rests, as requested in his last will and testament.

But Tierney’s grandfather is not the only one to find his final resting place in her family’s French Quarter saloon, as you will find out in “Accidental Undertaker.”

Tierney’s tale is part of Jack Daniel’s sprawling new interactive project The Few & Far Between: Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey. The website collects fantastic, often bust-a-gut funny anecdotes and strangely poetic, colorful stories that have taken place in America’s favorite watering holes, saloons and dive bars.

Jack Daniel’s is partnering with VICE to promote a photo contest. The winning image of an American bar will be featured in a future Jack Daniel’s ad in an upcoming issue of VICE magazine. More information at

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Jack Daniel’s Bar Stories: Donna makes eye contact
10:15 am


Jack Daniel's

They say that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but behind the glitz, glamour and sleaze of the Vegas strip (literally right behind it, out of view) there’s the even more lawless underbelly of “Sin City,” that well-worn part of town now often referred to as “Old Vegas.”

It is against this less than glamorous backdrop that we hear Donna’s tale… ¡Eye, caramba!

(Trust me, there is no way, none, that you are expecting the punchline.)

Donna’s outrageous story is part of Jack Daniel’s sprawling new interactive project The Few & Far Between: Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey. The website collects fantastic, often bust-a-gut funny anecdotes and strangely poetic, colorful stories that have taken place in America’s favorite watering holes, saloons and dive bars.

Jack Daniel’s is partnering with VICE to promote a photo contest. The winning image of an American bar will be featured in a future Jack Daniel’s ad in an upcoming issue of VICE magazine. More information at

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Jack Daniel’s Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey: The Babysitter’s Club
03:06 pm


Jack Daniel's

We’ve all had a “shaggy dog story” inflicted upon us by a convivial stranger in a bar. You know, the sort of tale with a long windup, lots and lots of detail and then an improbable, or even completely and utterly pointless ending.

In “The Babysitter’s Club,” another installment of Jack Daniel’s The Few & Far Between: Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey, we hear Jimmy Sweetwater’s shaggy duck story and learn the lesson that when easy money just seems too easy, there’s usually a catch. And if walks like a duck and talks like a duck... well, let’s Jimmy explain.

Jimmy’s story is part of Jack Daniel’s sprawling new interactive project which collects fantastic, often bust-a-gut funny anecdotes and strangely poetic, colorful stories that have taken place in America’s favorite watering holes, saloons and dive bars.

Jack Daniel’s is partnering with VICE to promote a photo contest. The winning image of an American bar will be featured in a future Jack Daniel’s ad in an upcoming issue of VICE magazine. More information at

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Title Shots: Luke Rockhold
05:08 pm


Luke Rockford

Luke Rockhold
In this episode of “Moving Portraits: Title Shots,” we travel to Santa Cruz to learn how a lifetime of surfing and skating has shaped middleweight Luke Rockhold’s fighting style.

If you’ve ever spent any time in a California coastal town, you’ve probably noticed dozens of people heading for the beach to surf every morning at sunrise. It’s like they have to be there. Ever known a surfer who you wouldn’t describe as an adrenaline junkie? The thrill that comes from riding the breaks seems mighty addictive.

Surfing is the ultimate man against nature sport. The ultimate man against man sport—at least that which doesn’t involve actual weaponry—is mixed martial arts and Luke Rockhold, has mastered both. He’s also a skater and believes that it is his agility on the waves and on his deck informs his fighting style and stance.

Rockhold grew up surfing in Santa Cruz with his father and older brother pro surfer Matt “Rocky” Rockhold (long the face of Rip Curl). The waves there spawn the world’s best surfers, but as he mentions in the video below, Santa Cruz may appear to be a sleepy idyllic place, but it’s a fairly hard town, especially the beaches which can get very territorial between groups of surfers.

Luke Rockhold seems to have channeled his need for that adrenaline rush with his professional aspirations. As he admits in the portrait below, he was a wild and crazy, aggressive violent kid. Today the former Strikeforce Champion is #5 in the official Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight rankings.

On November 8th, Rockhold will be battling it out with British MMA fighter Michael Bisping at UFC’s UFC Fight Night 55 at the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia. If their hilariously shit-talking press conference is any indication, it ought to be a doozy!

Sponsored by Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

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